Instagram affiliate marketing

Instagram Affiliate Marketing Ultimate Guide: 3 Steps to Make Money on Instagram

If you’re ready to learn all about Instagram affiliate marketing, you’re in the right place!

Here at ClickBank, we see a lot of people who want to make money on Instagram – it’s one of the best social networks out there for monetizing your following.

Many successful affiliate marketers grow their visibility by becoming influencers on Instagram. With that said, most of our customers at ClickBank aren’t influencers at all and they still make a great living as affiliate marketers!

That’s the beauty of affiliate marketing – you can make money online without having to be front and center yourself. Simply create useful content to promote other people’s products and watch the commission checks roll in!

So, how do you make money with affiliate marketing on Instagram? Let’s check it out!

How Does Affiliate Marketing on Instagram Work?

First, a quick refresher: affiliate marketing is promoting other people’s products to your audience in exchange for a commission from each sale you generate. This involves placing a special tracking link that will give you credit for any successful sales. Typically, affiliate marketing requires a few different parties:

  • The brand or seller (the one with a product to sell)
  • The affiliate (the one promoting that product to their audience)
  • The customer (the one who buys a product)
  • The affiliate network (the one who connects the seller and affiliate)

Beyond that, you need a place where products can be promoted. That’s where Instagram comes in.

It’s one of the most popular social networks in the world, with more than 1 billion monthly active users. But for us marketers, perhaps the most impressive statistic is that roughly 1/3 of Instagram users worldwide are between 25 and 34 years old!

That audience is a gold mine for all kinds of niches and businesses to get in front of.

So, if you’re wondering, “Is affiliate marketing allowed on Instagram?” The answer is yes!

Here’s how to do it.

Becoming an Affiliate on Instagram

Now, let’s look at how you can actually use Instagram as an affiliate – the process is a little different than with other popular free traffic sources.

On most social media sites, you can simply write a social post, put your affiliate link in it, and call it a day. But with Instagram, you’re NOT allowed to put clickable links in regular feed posts, so it requires you to be a bit more creative!

Specifically, there are 5 main ways that affiliate marketers can use Instagram features to make money:

  1. Organic posts with an affiliate link in your bio. Posting from your feed with a link in bio works best if you’re only focused on promoting one brand or offer. Just publish a post or story about your product and reference the link in your 150-character bio as a CTA for people who want to learn more. (You can also swap out the affiliate link each time you promote a new offer.)
  2. Use Instagram Stories. If your business account has over 10K followers, you’re given the option to include a swipe-up link in your stories. This can be an affiliate link to an offer, but it can also be a regular link to an affiliate bridge page with affiliate links included there.
  3. Use IGTV. If you’re making regular use of Instagram’s video feature, you may have the opportunity to add an affiliate link in the description of your IGTV video.
  4. Include a short URL in your photo or story. In this case, I don’t mean an actual link your user can tap or click, but just visually typing out a shortened URL inside of your image that people can see and go type into their browser. (Let’s be clear: this is a pretty unlikely way to get much traffic, but it’s still an option.) Offering a promo code is another option that can work well.
  5. Pay for Instagram ads. If it makes sense, you can bypass organic social altogether and just pay to get in front of the massive Instagram audience (as an affiliate or as a seller).

What’s cool is, you can use any combination of these to drive revenue for your affiliate business! Feel free to experiment with them to see what works best.

How to Make Money on Instagram as an Affiliate

Now that you know where you can place your affiliate links on Instagram, it’s time to go over the steps for making money!

Here are the 3 steps you should follow to find success with Instagram affiliate marketing:

  1. Build a community around your topic, niche, or audience.
  2. Find affiliate offers to promote.
  3. Publish regular content that directs people to an offer.

Step 1: Build an Instagram Following

First things first: You need a following on your Instagram! Otherwise, who are you going to put affiliate offers (and links) in front of?

But before you publish a single post or story, you need to decide who you want to talk to (and what you’re talking to them about). Like with any online business, your Instagram will be more successful if it’s centered around a specific topic, niche, or audience.

For example, an Instagram influencer like V Shred is going to post almost entirely health and fitness related content, as would a big brand like Nike.

V shred instagram

Even if you do go the influencer route, rather than building a corporate brand, you almost always see an influencer that represents a certain niche or topic, such as:

  • Photography
  • Fitness
  • Beauty
  • Fashion
  • Cooking
  • Activism

Niching Down

Like with starting an affiliate website, a YouTube channel, or any other social media account, it’s important to niche down on Instagram. Unless you’re already a celebrity, people will get to know you better if they associate your name or brand with a specific topic. As a bonus, anyone who comes across your Instagram will be able to tell what you’re all about right away and decide if it’s a good fit for them.

Now, if you want to do Instagram affiliate marketing with ClickBank offers, it’s worth looking at your options before committing to a niche! Simply sign up for a free ClickBank account and visit the ClickBank marketplace to see which niches and offers you’d like to promote – then back up from there to determine the kind of Instagram content you’ll need to produce.

There’s obviously a LOT you need to know to build a following on Instagram (most of which involves creating top-notch content), but choosing your niche and an offer to monetize your following is an excellent starting point.

Step 2: Find an Affiliate Program for Instagram

Next, we need to talk about where you can find high-converting affiliate offers to promote!

There are all kinds of affiliate programs and affiliate networks out there. In fact, even Instagram itself is getting into the affiliate space.

Almost any of the prominent affiliate networks are supported on Instagram, so you can feel free to experiment with different ones to find the best affiliate offers for your brand.

But at ClickBank, we believe our selection of quality offers and high commission rates (up to 75% or higher) are tough to beat anywhere else, so let’s briefly look at how you can choose ClickBank products to promote on Instagram.

Finding a ClickBank Affiliate Offer

First, go sign up for a free ClickBank account and give yourself a nickname. Then, head over to the ClickBank marketplace and start looking for a niche (category) or specific offer that looks promising.

If we continue with the fitness brand example, here’s how it might look:

clickbank affiliate marketplace

In here, we can look through offers that are getting sales for other affiliates and find one that’s a good fit for our brand and audience. Don’t forget to check out the seller’s landing page and affiliate tools page (if they have one) to see if the offer quality is there.

If you find a product that you may want to share with your audience, you can just hit the “Promote” button on an offer, generate a ClickBank affiliate link (ie a tracking link), and add it to any – or ALL – of the 5 places where Instagram allows links.

To find out more about getting set up as an affiliate on ClickBank, choosing an offer, and making your first affiliate commission, check out our in-depth ClickBank for beginners guide!

Step 3: Publish Quality Content Regularly

So, you’ve chosen your niche, found an offer to promote, and your Instagram is all ready to go?

Great! Now, the last and most important step to finding success on Instagram is… publishing new content regularly! It’s no exaggeration when I say the content you publish is make-or-break.

What do I mean?

Well, like with any business, your Instagram account is competing for attention in a competitive space. And while it’s obviously not a pure meritocracy on social media, exceptional content does tend to rise to the top. That means having a pulse on what your audience cares about, being creative, using quality equipment, and putting real effort into every aspect of your content creation.

With that said, it’s possible to be “TOO good.” If you’re always perfect with everything – from pristine makeup and lighting to polished descriptions and comments – it can come across as inauthentic. That’s not a good look on Instagram.

Using Hashtags

Part of good content includes the strategic use of hashtags in your description. (Quick reminder: a hashtag is just a searchable word or phrase that describes what your post is about. It makes your post publicly visible to people outside your current following. For example: #beautiful)

In terms of hashtag strategy, if you can piggyback off of trends, it gives your Instagram a LOT more visibility than just making random posts all on your own.

However, you should always choose hashtags that are actually relevant to your post and audience. For example, don’t put #justinbieber on a post about your new puppy (you didn’t name your dog Justin Bieber just for the Insta hashtag, did you?).

Like with keywords in SEO, you’ll probably see better traction with more specific hashtags (like 3-4 words minimum). While the total volume is lower, the potential visibility will be higher and help you connect with your target audience all across Instagram. There are some VERY niche hashtags out there!

Consistency Over Quality

Content quality is key, but if you had to pick between quality and consistency, consistency wins out every time. You’re a LOT more likely to succeed on Instagram if you publish content consistently, hitting a pre-determined publishing schedule week in and week out.

What would that look like? We recommend this as a general target for your Instagram affiliate marketing content calendar:

  • 1 feed post per weekday
  • 1-2 stories per day
  • 1 reel every other day
  • 1-3 IGTV/week

Obviously, what’s best for your niche may differ. Maybe you find that your content isn’t as conducive to videos, or stories, or people get bored of it if you post too often, or you can’t keep up the quality at a certain pace.

But whatever schedule you end up choosing, your Instagram affiliate marketing business can only thrive if you stick with it for the long term!

If you continue posting new content and choosing quality offers to promote, it’s only a matter of time before your Instagram starts to generate a nice income!

How Instagram Influencer Levels Change the Game

Now that we’ve gone over the steps for succeeding on Instagram, let’s cover a few other details about Instagram that will help you take advantage of the platform!

First, whether you plan to be an affiliate marketing influencer or a brand, you should be aware of “influencer levels.” These can completely change how you approach your content planning.

The exact levels may vary depending on who you talk to, but they generally break down something like this:

  • Nano-Influencer: 0 to 10K followers
  • Micro-Influencer: 10K to 50K followers
  • Macro-Influencer: 50K to 500K followers
  • Mega-Influencer: 500K+ followers

As a nano-influencer, you’re creating targeted content in a narrow niche. Your account may never grow a huge following, but you tend to have a lot of highly engaged followers. In a way, a small and engaged following can give you more credibility than a giant audience like bigger Instagram accounts have.

Nano and micro are good levels for traditional affiliate marketing, where you find affiliate links and include them in your posts. This is because you can promote what you actually believe in without adhering to all the requirements of a brand sponsor.

As you go up to higher influencer levels, you start to have more opportunities for big brand sponsorships, but you’re likely to see lower engagement in your posts. No matter which level you’re at, brand sponsors will expect a certain level of engagement.

You also need to consider your content strategy in light of where you are. Smaller Instagrams can see a lot more success just from regular feed posts that generate high engagement, while bigger accounts tend to do better with stories.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Difference Between Affiliate Marketing and Influencer Marketing?

Affiliate marketing and influencer marketing are virtually the same thing – the distinction comes down to commission structures and how products are promoted.

As an affiliate, you’ll use a tracking link for affiliate offers to generate commissions on a Revenue Share (RevShare) or cost per action (CPA) basis. In this model, you only get paid when a desired action is taken (usually a sale or purchase).

As an influencer, you’ll outline a set of terms with a brand to sponsor their product or service in your Instagram post. You’ll get paid a flat fee for promoting the product, regardless of how many people buy.

Of course, there’s a third possibility, which is a combination of the two: you get paid a sponsorship fee and include an affiliate link that gives you more income from successful commissions. This is most likely to work if you have a highly engaged following!

Is Using Affiliate Links on Instagram Worth It?

In a nutshell, yes. You can definitely use affiliate links to make money on Instagram.

However, it’s not so much a question of affiliate links on Instagram specifically. If you have an Instagram, affiliate links are one great way to monetize your following, but is Instagram the BEST place to be an affiliate marketer online?

Honestly, I’d say there may be better platforms if your goal is affiliate marketing:

  • An affiliate marketing website/blog
  • YouTube affiliate marketing
  • Pinterest affiliate marketing
  • Facebook affiliate marketing (especially Facebook Groups)

With that said, if you’re in a visual niche or you’re really familiar with the Instagram platform, it’s certainly possible to do very well there!

How Many Followers Do You Need for Affiliate Marketing?

There is no specific requirement, but if you do a little bit of quick math, you’re probably going to want to see at least 5K followers to see any real momentum. 

Here’s why: If you manage to average a decent 1% of your followers to click through your affiliate link and make a purchase per month, then that’s 5000 * .01 = 50.

That’s 50 commissions! 

On ClickBank, the average payout value (APV) can vary widely by niche, but if you made $50 in commissions per sale, that’s $2500 per month.

These are some real back-of-the-napkin numbers, but the point is, you need a big enough following where a small conversion rate can still equal a decent income. It’s all a balance between followers, engagement/conversions, and commission totals.

3 Final Tips for Success on Instagram

We’ve covered a lot in this post, but I wanted to leave you with 3 other quick tips:

  1. Use the proper affiliate disclosure. As we discuss in our post on affiliate link disclosure, it’s important to TELL people that you’re an influencer or affiliate! You can easily do this on Instagram by adding a hashtag like #ad, #sponsored, or #promotion.
  2. Route traffic to your email list. It’s possible to make pretty good money directly from your Instagram posts and stories using an affiliate link, but these tend to have a short shelf life. To achieve greater long-term value from your Instagram content efforts, encourage your followers to sign up for your email list, where you can more easily promote new affiliate offers and maintain greater control over your audience.
  3. Engage with other Instagram accounts. One of the best ways to grow on Instagram is to be visible on other people’s profiles. That means commenting, liking, sharing, and even direct messaging people who engage with your content.

Instagram Affiliate Marketing Wrap-up

I tried to make this post as accessible as possible, but you can probably tell by now that affiliate marketing on Instagram will take a lot of time and effort before you see results. You’ll need persistence and a willingness to try new things in order to maximize your Instagram success!

With that said, Instagram is a great option for anyone who’s ready to build an audience online.

If you’re interested in cutting down on your learning curve and learning how to be a successful affiliate FAST, we recommend checking out Spark, the official ClickBank education platform all about affiliate marketing!